top of page

LAB MEMBERS

Screen Shot 2022-03-04 at 12.57.19 PM.png

PROFESSOR PETER ROY, PhD

Principal Investigator

Peter's lab has developed new assays to discover novel candidate drugs and targets. His group also investigates how human genetic variation contributes to a varied response to drugs. Towards these goals, Peter's lab employs chemoinformatics, drug screens, genetic screens, genomic screens, next-generation sequencing, and molecular biology. The lab's goals are greatly facilitated by their own HPLC and LCMS instruments. Peter's group has discovered molecules that prolong life in model systems, molecules that control parasites of animals and plants, and molecules that disrupt amyloid formation. Current projects include developing new molecules to control mosquito vectors of human disease (malaria, Zika virus, and Dengue fever to name a few) and the group continues to develop new molecules to combat helminth parasites of humans. Peter's lab is also working on understanding how variation in the human genome impacts drug metabolism. 

 

Peter is proud of his long-standing record in working with his PhD students to produce their impactful first-author papers. Many of his undergraduate students have also made important contributions to publications that they have co-authored. Check out his student's publication record below, including the Roy Lab Alumni.

Peter's lab is located on the 12th floor of the beautiful Donnelly Centre glass tower. He is a member of the Department of Molecular Genetics, the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UofT's precision medicine initiative PRIME, and the infectious disease consortium EPIC.

bio_andrew_burns_edited_edited.jpg

ANDREW BURNS, PhD

Research Associate

Andrew earned his BSc in Biochemistry from Queen’s University and a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Toronto in the Roy Lab. Both as a PhD student and Post-Doctoral Fellow, Andrew has made multiple pioneering discoveries on small molecule metabolism in nematodes, leading to first-author papers in Nature, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Communications, Nature Protocols, and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, in addition to contributing authorship on eight other manuscripts including a second Nature paper.  He is also a named co-inventor on several of our US and International Patent applications.

9362A46E-E25D-4DA0-A9AB-FBC37A7C56A9_1_201_a.jpeg

Kate Sihuta, BSc

Lab Manager

We are lucky to have recruited Kate to our team recently. She has extensive experience in analytical chemistry and developing new protocols for metabolic analyses. Kate keeps our ship afloat and the lab running smoothly.

Jessica_400x300_edited.jpg

JESSICA LACOSTE, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Jessie received her PhD from the University of Toronto in the lab of Mikko Taipale, where she conducted a large scale study of the impact of missense mutations on the localization of proteins within human cells. Jessie is a joint post-doctoral fellow in the Roy, Boone and Andrews Labs, where she is pioneering the PEXIL technology. 

Screenshot 2024-05-03 at 9.00_edited.png

Levon Tokmakjian, BSc

PhD Student (Dept of Pharm & Tox)

Levon received his BSc from the University of Toronto. He is working to understand the mechanisms by which animals protect themselves against a deleterious class of drugs called cationic amphiphilic drugs (or CADs). In Levon's first two years in the Roy Lab, he is already a co-first author on a 2022 eLife paper and is a co-author on our PLoS Genetics paper.

Screen Shot 2022-02-22 at 4.37_edited.jpg

Brittany Cooke, BSc

PhD Student (Molecular Genetics)

Brittany obtained her BSc from Queens University and hit the ground running once in the Roy Lab. She is developing a new functional genomics-based drug discovery pipeline targeting multiple human infectious diseases. Impressively, Brittany's contributions in her first year landed her co-authorship on our 2023 Nature paper. Furthermore, her pioneering studies have led her to be a named co-inventor on one of our US Patent applications. 

Screenshot 2024-03-23 at 8.09_edited.jpg

Nina Richards, BSc

MSc Student (Molecular Genetics) 

Nina obtained her BSc from University of Toronto in 2023. In the Roy Lab, she is developing a high-throughput platform to screen for clinically used drugs that might be repurposed to treat rare genetic human diseases. To do this, she is using mutants of the nematode C. elegans to model the rare recessive diseases.

CD3B152D-439B-4019-B2A0-AA471CBD1A79_edited.jpg

LARISSA PRINGLE

3rd Year Summer Student 2024 (Molecular Genetics). Donnelly Undergraduate Research Scholar.

Larissa is working on understanding the cellular effects of one of our cytochrome P450-bioactivated molecules.

7B943C41-78FD-4DF6-AD12-FECA53BF4C83_edited.jpg

MODHAR AL QASSER

3rd Year Summer Student 2024 (Molecular Genetics). NSERC Undergraduate Research Scholar.

Modhar is working on understanding the cellular effects of one of our cytochrome P450-bioactivated molecules.

Roy Lab Alumni

Graduate Student Alumni

Jessica Knox, Molecular Genetics PhD Student

Thesis: Novel Approaches for Anthelmintic and Nematicide Discovery.

About: Jess defended her PhD in Peter's lab in December of 2023.  Jess has been a prolific Roy Lab contributor; at last count, she is a co-author on 13 manuscripts, 10 of which have been published in journals such as Nature, eLife (2X), Nature Communications (2X), and Scientific Reports. Jess is also a named co-inventor on one of our US Patent applications. While in Peter's lab, Jess focused on pioneering the culture of nematode parasites and has exploited these cultures to better understand the mechanism of action of a novel nematicide that she discovered.

Muntasir Kamal, Molecular Genetics PhD Student

Thesis: Insights on the Xenobiotic Barrier Function of the Caenorhabditis elegans Pharynx Cuticle.

About: Muntasir made numerous discoveries while a PhD student in the Roy Lab that led to the better understanding of how small molecules accumulate in animals. Over the course of his PhD, Muntasir's work led to four first-author papers, one of which has been published in Nature Communications, one in eLife, one in PLoS Genetics, and a fourth in review.

Current Position: Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Lorraine Kalia Lab (Krembil Research Institute)

Sean Harrington, Pharmacology & Toxicology PhD Student

Thesis: Exploiting Caenorhabditis elegans as a Discovery Platform to Identify Nematode  Parasiticides that act Through Neuromuscular Disruption

About: Sean published first-author papers in Nature Communications and Nature's Communication Biology journals while a PhD student in the Roy Lab.

Current Position: GSK, Medical Affairs Associate, Vaccines

 

Yanqing Jiang, Molecular Genetics MSc Student

Thesis: Identifying Chemical Modulators of C. elegans Stress Response for Use as Tools and  Potential Anthelmintics

Current Position: Dentistry Student at the University of Toronto

 

Jacob Pyche, Pharmacology & Toxicology MSc Student

Thesis: The Characterization of wact-45, a Novel Small Molecule Tool that Likely Inhibits the Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter

About: Jacob was co-first author on a Nature Communications paper and a contributing author on our Nature Communications Biology paper.

Current Position: Medical School graduate (U of Ottawa, 2023) and now a medical resident in Toronto.

 

Duhyun Han, Pharmacology & Toxicology MSc Student

September, 2016-May-2019.

Thesis: Using C. elegans as a Drug-Discovery Model for PFIC3 Liver Disease

About: Duhyun is a contributing author on two manuscripts, one of which is in review and can be read here, that will be published from the Roy Lab.

Current Position: Lab Manager of Acorn Biolabs

Yeonwha (Emilie) Song, Molecular Genetics MSc Student

Thesis: Towards Characterization of a Nematode Stress Reporter Suppressing Streptomyces Extract for Anthelmintic Use

Current Position: After completing her PhD at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry at the Technical University of Munich, Emily is now working at Merck.

 

Serena D’Souza, Molecular Genetics PhD Student

Thesis: The Characterization of MADD-3, a Homolog of the Dual Specificity CLK Kinase that is Required for Muscle Arm Extension in Caenorhabditis elegans.

About: Serena was a first author on a PloS Genetics paper, and a contributing author on two Developmental Cell papers.

Current Position: Regulatory Affairs Senior Manager at AstraZeneca

 

Ashwin Seetharaman, PhD (Dept. of Molecular Genetics)

Thesis:  The Cloning and Characterization of MADD-4, A Novel Guidance Cue in Caenorhabditis elegans.

About: Ashwin was a first author on a Developmental Cell paper, a co-first author on a PLoS Genetics paper and a Bioprotocol paper, and a contributing author on a second Developmental Cell paper while in the Roy Lab.

Current Position: Research Scientist in Gary Ruvkun’s lab at Mass General (Harvard)

 

Kevin Chan, Molecular and Medical Genetics MSc and PhD. Student

Thesis: Investigations into UNC-40 Mediated Guidance of Cell Migrations and Cell Extensions.

About: Kevin was a first author on papers published in Development, PLoS Genetics, and Bioprotocol, and was a contributing author on four other Roy Lab papers. 

Current Position: Intellectual Property Associate at Dechert LLP

 

Genna Luciani, PhD (Dept. of Molecular Genetics)

Thesis: Identification and Characterization of Novel Small Molecules Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model System. 

About: Genna was a first author on papers published in Nature Chemical Biology and Nature Communications, and was a contributing author on papers published in PLoS Neglected tropical Diseases and Chemical Biology.

Current Position (2020): Scientist at Cytiva

 

Andrew Burns, PhD (Dept. of Molecular Genetics)

Thesis: Mapping Worm-Bioavailable Chemical Space for Improved Probe Discovery and Characterization with Caenorhabditis elegans

About: While in the Roy Lab, Andrew was a first-author on papers published in Nature, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Communications, Nature Protocols, and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, in addition to contributing authorship on eight other manuscripts including a second Nature paper.

Current Position: Research Associate in the Roy Lab.

 

Trevor Kwok, PhD (Dept. of Molecular Genetics)

Thesis: The Characterization of Nemadipine and Migrazole as Small Molecule Tools for Use in the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

About: Trevor had a first author Nature paper in the second year of his PhD degree in the Roy Lab. In addition, he was a first author in papers published in PLoS Genetics and European Journal of Pharmacology and made important contributions to a paper that we published in Nature Protocols

Current Position: Pediatric Physician at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre, Toronto

 

Mariam Alexander, PhD (Dept. of Molecular Genetics)

Thesis: MADD-2, a Homologue of the Opitz Syndrome Protein MID1, Regulates Guidance to the Midline through UNC-40 in Caenorhabditis elegans

About: Mariam was a first-author on Roy Lab papers published in Developmental Cell, Development, and Developmental Biology and was a contributing author on Roy Lab papers published in Developmental Biology, Development and JALA.

Current Position: Physician in Medical University of South Carolina, USA

 

Alexandra Byrne, PhD (Dept. of Molecular Genetics)

Thesis: A Global Analysis of Synthetic Genetic Interactions & A Genetic Analysis of Muscle Arm Development in Caenorhabditis elegans

About: Alex was a first-author on Roy Lab papers published in the Journal of Biology and Development, and made important contributions as co-author on a paper published in Developmental Cell.

Current Position: Professor, University of Massachusetts 

 

Scott Dixon, PhD  (Dept. of Molecular and Medical Genetics)

Thesis: Muscle Arm Development in Caenorhabditis elegans

About: Scott was a first-author on Roy Lab papers published in Development (2X) and Developmental Biology, and was a co-author on our papers published in the Journal of Biology, Development and JALA.

Current Position: Tenured Professor, Stanford University, Dept of Biology

Undergraduate Student Alumni

*indicates the student was a co-author on a paper published in the Roy Lab 

Marina Klassen, MGY280 Project Student- Jan-April 2023; 3rd Year Molecular Genetics Project Student, 2023-2024. Marina worked towards better understanding how select small molecules engage nuclear receptors in an animal model system.

Rita Cai, 4th year Thesis Project Student, 2023-2024 (Pharmacology and Toxicology). Rita worked towards developing novel compounds to treat infectious disease.

Linda Ren, PLC472 Thesis- 2022/2023.

*Savina Cammalleri, MGY480 Thesis- 2022/2023. MGY Summer Student, May-Aug, 2021, 3rd year ROP Student, 2021/22 (2021 Donnelly Best Summer Student Abstract Award). Impressively, Savina published a first author paper in JOVE while in the Roy Lab and is a contributing author to a paper that is now in review.

*Jingxiu Ji, MGY480 Thesis Student, 2021/22. Through her phenotypic analyses, Jingxiu made an important contribution to our eLife paper, on which she is a co-author.

Ryan (Yong) Kim.  Chemistry Summer Student, co-supervised with Mark Lautens.  May-August, 2019 (NSERC USRA award winner)

Jack Li,  MGY Summer Student, May-December, 2019 (UROP award winner)

Zarrin Moon, Undergraduate Plate Pourer.  Sept 2016-present.

Sophia (Xin) Huang.  Sept 2017-Jan-2019.

*Jack Castelli, MGY Summer Student, May-December, 2017 (UROP award winner); MGY280 student.Jan-April 2018. While a student in the Roy Lab, Jack did work contributing to our Nature paper and a manuscript that is currently in review.

Zi (Jason) Wang,  P&T PLC472 project/thesis student (2015-2016), summer student 2016.

*Duhyun Han, Fourth year undergrad summer student, May 15-Aug 15, 2016. Duhyun ended up joining the Roy Lab as a graduate student and made important contributions to several papers.

*Karolina Szlapa, Second year undergrad summer student, May 3-Aug 31, 2016; Sept-April, 2017, third year NEW390Y project student.  Won the undergraduate Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Poster Competition; March 27th, 2017. Through her forward genetic screens, Karolina made important contributions to our Nature Communications paper and was made a co-author.

Yitong Yang, Second year undergrad summer student, May 3-Aug 31, 2016; Sept-April, 2017, third year NEW390Y project student.

Yanquing Jiang, MGY  and P&T third year undergraduate summer student; May-August 2015; MGY480 student (2015-2016), summer student 2016.

Diana Dyer, Fourth year undergrad summer student, July1-Aug 20, 2015.

Jessica Lacoste, Fourth year undergrad summer student, May 1-Aug 20, 2015.

Lindsay Smith, Queens 4th year undergraduate summer student (MGY graduate student come Sept 2015); May-August 2015.

**Luckshika Rajendran, third year NEW390Y project student, Sept 2012-April 2013; summer student May-August, 2013; fourth year HMB498 thesis student; summer student May-August, 2014; summer student May-August, 2015. Through her forward genetic screens, Luckshika made important contributions to our Nature Communications paper and was made a co-author.

Ryder Whittaker Hawkins, Fourth Year MGY480 Project Student (Sept,2014-April,2015).

Julia Kitaygorodsky, MGY mentorship program 2014/2015.

Shanna Stanley-Hasnain, BCH375 project student; summer student May-August, 2014.

Daniel Li, summer student, May-August 2014.

Nima Jaberi-Lashkari, second year MGY student- MGY undergrad mentorship program, Dec 2013-April 2014.

Zhao Yanyan, Tsinghua University Summer Student, July-August, 2013.

Amit Tah, second year Guelph Biomedical Engineering Co-op Student, May-August 2013.

*Robert Hunter, second year Guelph Biomedical Engineering Co-op Student, May-August 2013. Through his forward genetic screens, Rob made important contributions to our Nature Communications paper and was made a co-author.

Dorart Piro, second year summer student (co-supervised with Corey Nislow), May-August, 2012; HMB395Y Project Student (Sept-April, 2013); third year summer student May-August, 2013; BCH473 thesis student.

Adam Kramer, second year Summer Student, May-July , 2012.

John Glavin, second year Guelph Environmental Science Co-op Student, May-August 2012; Jan-April, 2013. Through his forward genetic screens, John made important contributions to our Nature Communications paper and was made a co-author.

Jingtao Guo, PKU Summer Student, July-August, 2012.

Natasha Pascoe, Fourth year HMB thesis project student, Sept-April, 2011, summer student, May-July , 2011.

Tam Le, Second year MGY undergraduate summer student, May-Aug, 2011.

Joowan (James) Kim, Third year MGY undergraduate summer student, May-July (2011) May-July (2010).

Salwa Hasan, Second year Human Biology undergraduate summer student May-July , 2010.

Kevin Yau, First & Second Year Undergraduate Queens Summer Student  May-Aug-2009 , May-July 2010.

Nicole Liscio, Fourth Year Undergraduate Queens Summer Student  Aug-2010.

Gayaanan Jeyanathan, Fourth year BGYD03H3 undergraduate project student, Jan-April, 2009.

Darren Gao, Second Year Undergraduate MGY Summer Student  May, 2009-Aug-2009.

*Louis Barbier, Fourth year Biochemistry BCH473 project student (Sept- 2008 to April-2009); Summer Student, 2008. Impressively, Louis made important contributions to two of our papers, one published in Developmental Cell and the other in PLoS Genetics.

*Eric Wong, Fourth Year UNI495 Project Student (Sept-2008 to April-2009); Third Year UNI393Y Project Student (Sept 2007 to April, 2008); Summer Student, 2007, 2008. Eric was a most impressive undergrad lab student- being a co-author on three of our papers published in Developmental Cell, Development, and Journal of Biology. Eric is now a physician.

*Jasmine Ono, Fourth Year MGY480 Project Student (Sept-2007-April, 2008); Summer Student, 2008. Jasmine was a co-author on our paper published in Development

Oisin Casey, Third Year Summer Exchange Student from National University of Ireland, Galway May, 2007-Aug, 2007.

Ciaran Moloney, Third Year Summer Exchange Student from National University of Ireland, Galway May, 2007-Aug, 2007.

*Teresa Lee, MGY480 Third Year Med Gen Summer Project Student; May, 2006-Sept, 2006. Theresa was a very hard working undergraduate student and ended up making important contributions to our Development paper.

Kelvin Law, MGY480 Fourth Year Project Student; September, 2005-April, 2006.

Robert A. Rose, MGY480 Fourth Year Project Student; September, 2005-April, 2006.

Thanashan Rajakulendran, HMB499Y 4th year project student; September, 2004-April, 2005.

Zobia Jawed, Fourth year summer student, May-Sept., 2005.

*Mariam Alexander, MGY480 Fourth Year Project Student; September, 2003-April, 2004. Mariam ended up joining the Roy Lab as a PhD student and publishing several papers with us.

*Alexandra Byrne, Volunteer, then fourth year summer student, Jan-Sept., 2003. Alex ended up joining the Roy Lab as a PhD student and publishing several papers with us.

Shu Ito, New College 3rd year project student; September, 2003-April, 2004.

bottom of page